January in the Three Brooks nature reserve

New Year workday: Hedge laying alongside Bradley Stoke Way.

An update from Sara Messenger of Bradley Stoke’s Three Brooks Nature Conservation Group.

Our January workday was, as always, two hedge-laying workdays instead of one day. Using traditional methods, we continued laying a hedge along the length of Bradley Stoke Way. To all of you who have seen it, we know it looks brutal and you may think the trees won’t ever recover, but look again in the spring and you will see the hedge burst into life once again. We were delighted to welcome Steve, Colin and Rob to the group, whether they were swayed by the thought of Sunday’s bacon butties or by the need to work off that extra helping of Christmas pudding we didn’t mind, we were just very glad they came to join us and hope they come back next month. The work was hampered not by the cold this year, but the mud. The top path is, in places, ankle deep in water and mud, so much so that it was suggested that it looked less like a path and more the battlefields of the Somme and that we should name the hedge ‘Hawthorn Ridge’!

High water levels

The brooks and lakes are also very high at the moment and we would urge everyone to keep their small children and dogs away from the edges. During the autumn/winter the water level within the lake is reduced by manual adjustment of the outlet control conveying flow into the downstream watercourse. This operation is to provide flood storage within the lake in the event of extreme rainfall and resultant high brook flows. This procedure is intended to reduce flood risk locally and within the downstream catchment area. These actions have been agreed by the Environment Agency. Just out of interest, we are researching the possibility of putting in depth markers so we can regularly record the height of the brooks.

Green Gym

Green Gym started the year with coppicing the Crack Willow around the lower newt pond and welcoming two new members Colin and Cecilia. The trees felled will be used to create a ‘dead hedge’ around the pond which is a breeding site for our protected newts.

Grant increase welcomed

The conservation group is run by volunteers and is supported with an annual Service Level Agreement grant. Many of our costs have greatly increased over the last few years, including the costs of putting on public events / walks. It had been suggested that we charge a fee to cover some of the walk costs but the group are committed to keeping the walks free, so instead they approached Bradley Stoke Town Council to ask for an increase and we are very pleased that at their December meeting our 2015/16 grant was increased to £2,000.

For further information, visit our website, www.three-brooks.info, email info@three-brooks.info or call Hannah on 0797 142 6266.

Photo: Hedge laying alongside Bradley Stoke Way.

This article originally appeared in the February 2015 edition of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine, delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to 9,500 homes in Bradley Stoke, Little Stoke and Stoke Lodge. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

Next workday: Saturday 7th February 2015

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